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The New Media Transformation
February 3nd, 2010

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This month Utah Stories examines how our culture is changing and asks this question: is your lifestyle becoming obsolete? And if so, is this good news or bad?

                                Then               Now

Cable TV Subscribers Approx. 16 million at the start of the 80's
Over 62 million in 2009
Cable Networks 28 in 1980 565 in 2006
Big 3 Network Viewership Almost 50% in 1984 Just over 20% in 2004
Total Daily Newspapers 1,626 nationwide in 1989 1,408 nationwide in 2008
Daily Paid Newspaper Circulation* 62,649 nationwide in 1989 48,597 nationwide in 2008
Percent of People Who Read a Newspaper Yesterday 58% in 1993 34% in 2008
Internet Use Less than 18 million adult users in 1995 when it started being tracked 184 million adult users in 2008

The New Media Transformation

Sources: Newspaper Association of America, National Cable & Telecommunications Association, Neilsen Media Research, Harris Poll,, Pew Research Center for People and the Press *Circulation in thousands

Obsolete robot

It is undeniable that the media as we knew it is dying a little bit more each day. Fewer people are picking up a newspaper or tuning in to their local evening news. But, like a phoenix, media is being born anew. Casualties abound from downsizing, loss of advertising revenue and the hundreds of newspapers going belly up across the country; however, the digital era of social networking, blogging and YouTube is creating opportunities for independent journalists and changing the power dynamic when it comes to media.

Probably the largest new source of news and information is from the blogosphere. Blogging has made it possible for any American with a computer to post their thoughts, observations, research and opinions for the world to see. Utah has proven to be a fertile ground for bloggers -- especially so-called "mommy bloggers." Stay-at-home moms are attacking the blogosphere with vigor -- using their individual interests, passions, and expertise to produce a plethora of information for the public at large. Many see this as a boon; allowing real opinions and experience to provide information that is more relevant and easier to relate to. Others fear the demise of journalistic integrity. At a 2008 American Magazine Conference, one of the speakers worried that if the great brands of journalism -- the trusted news sources readers have relied on -- were to vanish, then the Web itself would quickly become a "cesspool" of useless information.

The most worrisome aspect of all is how to keep experienced, reliable news sources alive long enough to survive the transition. Bloggers have had their share of scoops, but without mainstream media to annotate and validate it, the impact may disappear as quickly as it arrived. Advertising, which is the lifeblood of print and broadcast journalism, cannot make the same impact through blogs, or any other digital media. A single newspaper ad might cost many thousands of dollars while an online ad might only bring in $20 for each 1,000 customers who see it.

If you liked this article, see the others in our current issue below that examine the theme of obsolesence in American culture.

January index

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